It’s been just over one month since the launch of #vaxthenation, which saw more than 400 of Australia’s biggest artists and performers join forces with leading tour promoters, music festivals, venues, ticketing agencies, record labels, comedy producers, theatre, opera and dance companies, media outlets, industry associations, peak bodies and global brands like YouTube and TikTok in a new campaign asking Australians to help ‘stop the interruptions’ and get vaccinated.
In response, Ben Mitchell released a song called Free The Nation and started a campaign of his own. Free The Nation Music has since seen over 170 vaccinated and unvaccinated musicians stand up for freedom against discrimination, segregation and fear, and promoting choice, respect and love for all.
However, the one thing we can all agree on is that the COVID-19 vaccine has left us divided.
So, we wanted to go to the source itself, and find out just what the country music community thinks about this topical subject. While it would be impossible to gauge every single opinion, we have carefully curated our twelve country artists to represent a range of different ages, genders, locations, family dynamics, life experiences as well as places they are at in their respected careers.
While not requested by the artists themselves, to allow a safe and open space to share their opinions freely without consequence, we have assigned each artist a random number and omitted key details to keep their anonymity.
In this twelve-part daily series, we asked our artists a range of taboo, topical and controversial questions to find out what the Australian country music community thinks of COVID-19.
NOTE: OPINIONS IN THIS ARTICLE ARE THE ARTIST’S OWN. PLEASE CONSIDER DOING YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND/OR SPEAKING TO A GP OR SCIENTIFIC OR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.
For other artists in the series, go here > https://tinselandtapshoes.com/tag/covid/
Are you currently vaccinated or unvaccinated, and why did you make that decision?
Artist 12: I have been fully vaccinated for months now. I understand that vaccines can have adverse effects but, looking at the statistics, the likelihood of that happening versus the likelihood of getting severely damaged or dying from COVID was a no brainer for me. I made the decision not only for myself, because I don’t want to get sick or die of COVID, but also for everybody around me. I want everyone around me to feel as safe and healthy as possible. If you’re not for the vaccine, you’re against live music.
Do you think artists/performers should use their platform to encourage others to get vaccinated?
Artist 12: Yeah, I do. I know this is dividing people and people think we should just shut up and stick to singing, I get that a lot. And I understand that people haven’t signed on to hear our opinions on medicine but, at the same time, if you have a platform and people listening to you, it’s important you use it for the right reasons. When the evidence of this is backed by so many medical professionals, spreading information is important.
I understand I’m never going to convince an anti-vaxxer to change their mind on this issue. But there is an overwhelming amount of people on the fence and, if I can convince a few of those people to get vaccinated, that could save their lives or the lives of people around them. This is about saving lives and people’s health, so it’s an important thing to use your platform in that regard and saying the right things. I understand what you put in your body is your choice, but when it’s something to do with something that can affect everybody else around you, it’s not just about you any more.
What is your opinion on vaccinated only events? For example, Big Red Bash and Broken Hill Mundi Mundi Bash’s new ‘no jab, no jive’ policy, requiring ticket holders, artists, crew, volunteers and vendors over the age of 16 to be fully vaccinated to attend the events in 2022.
Artist 12: I am very much for it. There’s a big difference between a rule and discrimination. If I want to go to the local RSL and I wear no shoes, they’re not going to let me in. That’s something I can control. If I, however, go to an establishment and they say, “We’re not going to let you in because you’re a woman,” that is not something I can control and therefore, that is discrimination. In this circumstance, vaccination is something we can control and if people have decided not to be vaccinated, that’s their choice. It’s not fair for me to contract COVID or pass COVID on to somebody else because an unvaccinated person has been allowed into a venue. They need to understand this boils down to, their choice to dig their feet in and perpetuate their own ignorance has consequences. You can’t choose to disobey public health orders and then have everything your way.
Would you mandate your own personal gigs be vaccinated only?
Artist 12: Absolutely. As soon as gigs are coming back, I want them to be vax only for my audiences. I want to protect the safety of my fans, crew and band. Whenever I go, social occasions from now on, once things open up, will be to vax only venues. It’s going to be too dangerous to allow unvaccinated people at gigs. I understand they’re going to be mad but it’s not really my problem. The health and safety of my fans matters far more to me then what someone thinks about me.
Do you think those who choose not to be vaccinated should have the same freedoms as those who do and why?
Artist 12: No, I don’t think so. Either be vaccinated or isolate from the rest of society or perhaps form your own venues and do your own thing. I don’t want anything to do with them. I do believe it needs, in a certain way, to be punished because it’s completely against science. You’re choosing to not accept the medical statistics and advice laid out before you from many professionals across the entire globe and putting everybody else at risk. Obviously, you can still contract COVID with the vaccine, it’s just less severe and less likely. I want to do everything possible to avoid the spread of this and I think vaccination is the only way, so I’ll be 100% supporting businesses that allow vax only. I won’t be going anywhere that allows unvaccinated people or hanging out with people who are unvaccinated either.
Are you concerned that speaking out about the COVID-19 vaccine will impact your career in a negative way?
Artist 12: I am. It’s not like I enjoy confrontation or argument. I enjoy when people get along. But I’m doing this because I feel like it’s the right thing to do. I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history. The most important thing I can do is to express my concern for these things and to change even one person’s mind will be an amazing thing. I’m concerned people will stop following me, listening to my music, coming to my gigs, but I don’t feel like I’m losing much. If someone wants to be unvaccinated, which I truly do believe is an incredibly selfish action, then I don’t want them at my gigs. It’s an acceptable loss, unfortunately, in my opinion. I’d rather lose some followers and be true to what I believe. I think speaking out is very important and if I hadn’t, I think I would have really regretted that.
What are your opinions on people who don’t share your same beliefs on the COVID-19 vaccine?
Artist 12: I think freedom of opinion is a good thing. If you want to be unvaccinated and not listen to medical advice, it’s extremely selfish but you go ahead and do that, but you cannot expect for everybody else to allow you into their homes, into their venues, at their gigs, affecting them and their health.
If you want to call me a sheep and you want to call me an idiot … I’ve had every comment about my intelligence and everything under the sun coming back at me whenever I put something up about being vaccinated or encouraging people to get vaccinated, and that’s fine. They can throw insults at me, I don’t care what they think. I want people to be safe. I’m just following the orders of medical professionals and I’m certainly more likely to listen to somebody in a medical profession than I am somebody who’s reading conspiracy theories on the internet.
Some people have been quite vocal about how they think I’m quite aggressive on this issue and that’s fine with me as well because, if I’m going to be strongly opinionated, I would like it to be something like this because it’s a really important issue and people are spreading so much misinformation. So, long story short, there are a lot of people who don’t agree, but that’s fine. They don’t have to come to a show and they don’t have to follow me online.
To those you have voiced your opinions to (whether it be to fans, friends, or family), what kind of reception have you received?
Artist 12: I am lucky that all my close friends and family are all on the same side of this. They’re all very pro-vaccination, they’ve all been vaccinated or they’re waiting on their appointment. Online, I feel like the overwhelming majority are pro and that’s probably because people follow me who love live music and they want to get back to going to shows and living their lives like normal. I feel grateful I have great fans who are smart, kind and care about other people. There’s just a minority of vocal people who get angry at me sharing my opinion while they are also sharing their opinion, which is hypercritical.
When I first got vaccinated with my double vax, there were maybe 50 to 100 comments and 70% or 80% of them were anti-vax, really angry. I was amazed and I was so mad. Nothing in my post was negative. I was just saying how grateful I was to the medical professionals who put this vaccine together, spending so long wearing horrible PPE and administering vaccines, and just expressing my gratitude, and that was met with so much rage from so many people. The closer we get to things opening up for only vaccinated people, the harder it will become for the angry vocal minority.
Do you think your location has any influence on your decision to get vaccinated/be unvaccinated? For example, someone in a major city who have been largely affected by lockdowns might have more urgency to get vaccinated than those in regional areas/other states?
Artist 12: I would have been vaccinated and I would have wanted to be vaccinated regardless of where I was living, but I think it adds to the urgency for a lot of people when they’re in lockdown.
How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?
Artist 12: It’s been a big pivoting. We’ve had to change every plan. It’s been hard because the touring aspect has been completely dead. I don’t really know who I am without music. It’s more than my job, it’s my entire personality. It’s my love, it’s my passion.
For other artists in the series, go here > https://tinselandtapshoes.com/tag/covid/